tv The Lead With Jake Tapper CNN November 29, 2018 1:00pm-2:00pm PST
a problem that's somewhat localized, it's big enough it's affecting the whole country. >> it's all of us. dr. sanjay gupta, thank you so much. the cdc calls it a wake-up call for all of us. thanks for being with me. i'm brooke baldwin. "the lead" with jake tapper starts right now. >> could the fixer end up being the man who breaks the trump presidency? "the lead" starts right now. what could be the biggest direct threat to president trump to today, president trump's former cleanup guy, michael cohen, now causing a mess pleading guilty to lying to congress about trump business in moscow and now cooperating with special counsel robert mueller. what cohen now admits and what the president might have known. also breaking on the heels of all of this, president trump cancelling his meeting with vladimir putin, not because of michael cohen, he claims, but over putin's aggression in ukraine. as one key lawmaker tells the president to find his spine.
plus, a new scandal surrounding a member of the president's cabinet. did he help give cover to an accused serial pedophile? welcome to "the lead." i'm jake tapper. shocking news with special counsel robert mueller announcing a cooperation agreement with and a new felony charge against the president's former lawyer and fixer michael cohen. cohen making a surprise appearance in a federal court today pleading guilty to lying to congress about president trump's business dealings in russia, and cohen said he did it to help then candidate donald trump who was telling voters at the time he had no commercial or political ties to russia so cohen repeat that had lie before congress testifying today, quote, i made these statements to be consistent with individual ones, political messaging and to be loyal to individual one. individual one is president donald j. trump. the court documents lay out
cohen's multiple false statements which center around the proposed trump tower project in moscow. cohen saying discussions of the project did not end in january 2016 as he had testified to congress but continued at least through june 2016, the same month as that trump tower meeting with the russian lawyer who promised dirt on hillary clinton. june 2016, well after the time that trump was the presumptive republican nominee for president. cohen also says he briefed donald trump and members of the trump family on the project multiple times. president trump this morning told reporters cohen is lying in exchange for leniency, but the president stressed even if he did do the deal that he did not do that would be fine. >> it's very simple. he's got himself a big prison sentence, and he's trying to get a much lesser prison sentence by making up a story. now here's the thing. even if he was right, it doesn't matter because i was allowed to do whatever i wanted during the campaign. >> this move by special counsel
robert mueller coming after trump submitted his written answers to mueller's questions in which he was asked about that very project and given that previous charges against cohen were by the u.s. attorney in new york city and not special counsel mueller, this also marks the first official step by robert mueller over what president trump has called his red line, investigating trump business dealings. this also comes after several days of wild trump tweets attacking mueller and his team. cnn's pamela brown joins me now. pamela, you're learning that the trump tower moscow project is just one of the many topics about which michael cohen has spoken with mueller. >> this is just the tip of the iceberg. a source familiar with michael cohen is said to have spent over 70 hours with robert mueller's team on a variety of topics, including russia. >> reporter: michael cohen dropping a bombshell in federal court pleading guilty to lying to congress about how much the
president knew about a potential trump tower project in russia during the campaign out of loyalty toe president trump. >> mr. cohen will continue to cooperate. >> the plea agreement says the man who once said he'd take a bullet for the president gave information to special counsel robert mueller during more than 70 hours of questioning between august and november. according to course documents, among other things, cohen discussed the status and progress of the moscow project with trump referred to as individual one on more than three occasions, cohen claimed. while cohen told congress last fall that the moscow project ended in january of 2016, he now admits discussions about the project lasted as late as approximately june 2016 when trump was the presumptive republican nominee. cohen now admits he made the false statements to protect donald trump and minimize links between the moscow project and individual one and give the false impression that the moscow project ended before the iowa caucus and the very first
primary in hopes of limiting the ongoing russia investigations, and he admits he then spoke to candidate trump about traveling to moscow and discussed on multiple occasions traveling to russia to pursue the moscow project with an american associate who said in an e-mail saying our boy could become the president. united states and we can engineer it. cohen said i made the statements out of loyalty and to be consistent with his political messaging. the president responded by attacking cohen. >> he's a weak person and what he is trying to do is get a reduced sentence so she's lying a project that everybody knew about. >> reporter: but everyone did not know about it. the details of the project were not made public until a "new york times" report in february 2016 after the election, and while the president denies the accusations, he also says if the project in moscow did move forward there, would have been no issue. >> even if he was right it doesn't matter because i was
allowed to do whatever i wanted during the campaign. i was running my business, a lot of different things during the campaign. >> reporter: but the ranking members of the house and senate intelligence committees -- >> this is michael cohen. >> reporter: which cohen admits he lied to see it differently. >> it means when the president was representing during the campaign he had no business interests in russia, that that wasn't true. >> if anything the president has said is true, that there's no there there, why are all his closest associates being found guilty of lying about their ties to russia? >> reporter: and rudy giuliani told me on the phone today that there is no contradiction between the written response from the president on this question of trump tower moscow and what michael cohen has said, but what is clear here, jake, that this is not over. mueller's team made it clear in court documents they find cohen to be truthful based on corroborating evidence and they are also prepared to reveal to the court the extent and scope
and nature of the cooperation agreement, so we could learn more in court documents moving forward, jake. >> pamela brown. let talk about it with the experts. kaitlan collins, president trump's defense is threefold, one, michael cohen is lying, two, i didn't ultimately do the moscow project and, three, even if i had, that would have been fine. is he worried? >> that raises the questions if that is what happened why did he not say that before, why did he say he had no business dealings with congress and why did michael cohen lie to congress about it and what the president's legal team is now saying, the president's recollection matches up with michael cohen said today, why didn't the president correct michael cohen's public testimony where he said they did not discuss this any further after january 2016 which is what he had to correct today, which is what he lied to congress about. it the raises all of these questions about this, but i do think the president is concerned about this. he came out to reporters today leaving the white house and unprompted before any of us had even shouted a question he
started addressing the situation, started trying to defend it, arguing that he could do business dealings while he was running for president if he wanted to and it was all above board, but he did seem shaken up. didn't seem like the typical president trump who you see is defiant. he did seem a little bit concerned that all of this has come out about michael cohen. >> something interesting that he also said, david urban, he said something along the lines, i'm paraphrasing, the odds were that i wasn't going to win. i needed to keep my business going. >> if you look at it. the president was officially the nominee on july 22nd of 2016. >> but he was the presumptive nominee. >> i was in cleveland, right, and we were worried that there was going to be a floor fight in the convention, it was going to be ugly. so when the president says he's keeping his day job, i mean, i take it at face value. there were no investments. the president had no investments -- these are talks about a development deal. it wasn't an investment. the president had the no hold national russia.
this was talks, and who knows, i can't tell you what michael cohen was doing or peddling or selling overseas, what he was representing, right, i don't know those things. i don't know those facts. what we do know is that he lied. >> yeah. >> and he just had to plead guilty. that's the only thing we know right now. >> cohen says these conversations about the trump tower moscow project continued until june 2016. one month later donald trump tweeted, quote, for the record, i have sero investments in russia, and then take a listen to president trump in january 2017. >> i have no dealings with russia. i have no deals in russia. i have no deals that could happen in russia because we've stayed away and i have no loans with russia. >> i guess depends on what the definition of the word is. >> and the issue, of course, is not whether he had investments when he was running for president, right? he was taking policy positions as a primary candidate and then as the republican nominee with
direct impact on russia, right, so if you're donald trump and all of a sudden you've got a question in your party platform, for example, of do you want to give arms to ukraine or go soft on putin? well, we know at the convention they went soft on putin. wait a second, david. >> shower. >> that's the conflict of interest problem people have been shout begun and michael cohen was a very good reason to shout about it. >> even michael cohen has said only june of 2016, that's the last time -- may have ended in june of 2016 before the convention. we don't know. >> the conflict of interest problem i'm talking about is if you are pursuing a project that is dependant -- >> how do you know the project didn't end in june of 2016? >> and you're taking campaign positions. >> how do you know that the last conversation that michael cohen had in june of 2016 when the president was this isn't going to work, throws up his hands and leaves. why are you assuming that it's
the worst? >> just be clear for the folks at home. even if it was, conversations about the platform at convention are months in the working in a convention, whether it's republican or democratic. >> not true. >> it is true. >> for a typical candidate. >> i'm talking about like you just don't show up at convention with a platform that all of the delegates vote on as no one has seen it before so there's conversations about what goes into the platform. >> you weren't in cleveland. >> maybe not as early as seven months before, perhaps a month and a half, two months. >> i think he's saying it was more ad hoc. >> i was there. i was there. were you there? i was the only one at the that i believe was at the convention. i was at the convention. >> kaitlan collins, i want to brick in kaitlan here. take a listen to former campaign chair paul manafort when asked about norah o'donnell about the issue of trump's business dealings in july 2016. >> so to be clear, mr. trump has no financial relationships with anyone russian oligarchs?
>> that's what he said. that's obviously what our position is. >> kind of an uncomfortable answer, if that's what he said, that's what i said, that's what our position is. >> there's a period of like six seconds of silence after that where nora just kind of sits there. that's a great clip, but i do think that's the question here because as president trump said today, he said there's a good chance i wouldn't win so why would i give up these opportunities in case i went back into business so if he's operating with that mindset even after he became the nominee, it's fine for me to have michael cohen speak to russian businessmen. >> the kremlin. >> we don't know. that's the thing. there's only one person that knows, right. >> this is the classic donald trump what he does help. straddles the line. there on camera at a press conference saying i had no business with russia, nothing like that. the question is does it count as a business dealing if you're sending your longtime attorney to russia?
>> he said we stayed away. >> no deals that could happen in russia because we stayed away. >> the last six months. >> they hadn't stayed away. >> that's where donald trump straddles the line where he makes statements that are open-ended and not specific enough that he's lying but it is open-ended enough to clear him of any wrongdoing. >> we're also at a point, ryan, that president trump has clearly lied about this to the public and the press but the question is has he lied about this to the mueller and the evidence is, according to his attorneys, no. >> look. i don't even think that this is the worst thing that's happened this week for the president. to mow the worst thing that came out today is the number 70. that's the number of hours that michael cohen sat down with the mueller team, all right. it does not take you 70 hours to say i lied about the trump -- about the russia deal, right? it takes you maybe five minutes to tell them that one, so i think the big fear for the white house is what else did cohen say in those 70 hours and what is coming down the pike? >> and that's -- that's the nub of a lot of the president's ire
about crossing that line. as ryan points out. manafort conviction plea, you know, pleadings, were all about things that happened prior to the campaign, prior to -- you know, prior to involvement with the president. the president is i think concerned about the fbi going in with unlimited resources, unlimited amount of time and continuing to probe about his businesses a long, long time ago, that michael cohen may have been involved with with unfettered budget. >> one minor fact check. the indictments against manafort said he was committing crimes during his time running -- during the trump camp. not necessarily trump related. >> but it was during the time. >> but those -- there's not collusion. we know from the filings that the special prosecutor had no conclusion was brought up. >> michael cohen said in court that i made these statements, these lies, to be consistent with individual ones, political
messaging and to be loyal to individual one, so he's basically saying president trump was lying, saying there were no business dealings and therefore i lied to congress to back him up. >> yes. shocker. the president has lied again. this is why it's hard for me to take at face value what the president and his allies are saying about anything in relation to russia. even what the president's lawyers are saying and if i'm coming from rudy giuliani i'm giving it a side eye because they have been known of to say whatever it is that's advantageous to donald trump. when the 1616th congress gets together that the house intelligence committee will take up a more serious tone when it comes to this investigation. >> but you think mueller is not doing 'good enough job? >> the house has oversight. >> right. >> and the house has a committee that was supposed to do their due diligence and thanks to devin nunes they didn't. >> the question about nuannez o that committee? >> part of the michael cohen
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and we're back with new trouble for president trump and the russia investigation. his former fixer michael cohen suggesting that president trump is lying to everyone, specifically about his business dealings with russia. a far cry from the days when cohen felt his former boss could do nothing wrong or say nothing inaccurate. >> i've worked for mr. trump for a long time, and i can tell you that mr. trump's memory is fantastic, and i've never come across a situation where mr. trump has said something that's not accurate. >> there are -- seriously? >> yes, seriously. >> today cohen testified that he lied before congress specifically to back up
something that then candidate trump had said that was inaccurate indeed at the very least. let's talk about it with our legal panel. jeffrey toobin, what's the legal significant to this development in the context of the entire investigation? >> motive. this is all about motive. you know, why was donald trump so solicitive of vladimir putin? why did he change the republican platform? why was he endlessly defending putin? because, today's developments suggest, he had business interests during the campaign, and, you know, he said on the white house lawn today, well, everybody knew about that. no one knew about that. it would have been explosive during the primaries. the whole point of keeping it secret was keeping his financial motives -- financial interests alive in case he lost, so he was using his position as the republican candidate to
cultivate his financial interests, not doing the national interest. that's why today is so important. >> but, kim, that might undermine the idea that there was a conspiracy between the trump team and the russian government to influence the election. it might be just a case of old-fashioned greed. >> well, we don't know what other information mr. cohen has that he's told prosecutors. 70 showers a really long time, and this plea was not necessary. that we already had the prior plea so presumably this topic is something that the prosecution team is interested in talking to mr. cohen in connection with potentially other witnesses and other crimes. there's two key issues i think here factually. >> now we know that the conversations around trump tower in russia went into june 2016 which, of course, was the meeting in trump tower in new york where jared kushner and don jr. as well as paul manafort met
with russians to get dirt on hillary clinton, and the president has been very clear in stating pubically that i had no knowledge of this. we know he has knowledge he has knowledge of other things he pubically stated. the other thing is in august and september that have year in the steele dossier that has not been completely refeud, a lot of it is true, that mr. cohen went through germany, to germany and prague and had a meetings with russia to kind of sweep some of this collusion, for lack of a better word, under the rug. those two pieces in my mind are places where president trump is linked to these conversations whereas so far a lot of people are saying, listen, nothing -- everything happened prior to the campaign. has nothing to do with trump himself and by the way mr. cohen is not to be trusted, but we don't know how much corroborating evidence mueller has. >> a lot of blanks to be filled in. jeffry, i want to highlight one section. mueller notes that cohen briefed
family members of individual one, that's the president, about the trump company, about the project. the president's eldest son donald trump jr. had this exchange with the senate judiciary committee last year. the question, quote, it's been report i believe on cnn that mr. cohen had reached out to an e-mail box at the kremlin that was a generic mailbox for dmitry peskov. were you aware that have? >> he said i was lot. >> did you know of this deal in moscow? >> he said i was peripherally aware of it but most of my knowledge has been gained since about hearing about it over the last ten weeks. is this inclusion of the fact that michael cohen briefed members of the trump team, does that potential licly expose fams members like trump jr. to some risk? >> i think it does. another thing worth highlighting in the charging document is that there was a good deal of e-mail
traffic between felix sater, one of trump's business associates. i think we all know donald trump sr. doesn't do e-mail and donald trump jr. does do e-mail as far as i know. was he informed of anything related to the moscow project? that would contradict what he told the senate intelligence committee. remember also that donald trump jr.'s position and donald trump sr.'s position is that they never discussed the trump tower meeting which was also in june of 2016. that has always seemed highly questionable to me. today's developments put that in -- in question as well, plus the trump position is that roger stone may have talked to donald trump frequently during the campaign but they never discussed wikileaks which was obsessive interest to both
donald trump and roger stone, the fact -- i mean, all of these things come together make the trump position factually more difficult to maintain. >> kim, i want to ask you because there was something the end of this document. it ends like one of the writers and producers here described it as a cliffhanger. mueller walks through cohen's false statements over eight pages and ends with this. the day after cohen's call with assistant one, someone who works with dmitry peskov, individual two, that's felix sater, contacted him considering for a call and sart wrote to cohen it's about the president of russia. they called today, and then it ends, like a -- like a thriller, like the end of a chapter in a thriller. you've worked on documents like this. what's the reason for a cliffhanger like that? >> as i said earlier, it sounds like this actual plea could be used to build a case against other people. that is, if you're going to use him as a witness, you want him to sound like he's had a mea
culpa about his criminal role on this particular issue, so we'll have to see how things unfold, and as we've talked about before, the bigger kind of macro issue is what is mr. whitaker's role as these things are unfolding? it's a good thing i think for democracy that now we're seeing that the mueller investigation is going forward. these things are happening, but we're just -- but to the extent to which someone like don jr. might be implicated down the line or jared curb next i think we'll real very to see what the president does and what tools he uses in his toolbox to try to stop things or slow them down. >> kim, jeffrey, thank you so much. that's one way to try to change a subject, cancel a controversial sum milt with vladimir putin. but did it work? stay with us. [speaking in italian]
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welcome back. president trump blasting his one-time fixer michael cohen after cohen admitted today under oath in federal court that he lied to congress covering up trump business dealings in russia in order to be consistent with the false denials that candidate trump was telling voters as he ran for president in 2016. the president has been lark out against the russia investigation on twitter and at rallies and in a series of interviews every day this week. cnn's jeff zeleny traveling with the president, and he filed this president. >> reporter: president trump is suddenly keeping his distance from russian president vladimir putin, abruptly cancelling their one-on-one meeting at the g-20
summit. an hour after saying this today while leaving the white house. >> i think it's a very good time to have the meeting. >> the president changing course while flying here to argentina, saying on twitter it would be the best for all parties concerned to cancel. he blamed it on russia's refusal to release ukranian navy ships and sailors seized in a confrontation last weekend, but he's been nearly silent on that matter for days. the only thing that changed is today's bombshell in the russia investigation. his former fixer michael cohen pleading guilty to new charges saying he lied about how much the president knew during the 2016 campaign, about trying to build a trump tower in moscow. the president said his longtime lawyer was lying. >> he's a weak person. he's lying about a project that everybody knew about. i mean, we were very open with it. >> reporter: but that's not exactly the case as the president denied any business dealings with russia. >> no, i have nothing to do with russia. john, john, how many times do i have to say it? are you a smart man?
i have nothing do with russia. i have nothing do with russia. >> reporter: in his guilty plea today, cohen said he lied to congressional investigators when he told them the trump tower moscow project wrapped up before the iowa caucuses which helped pave the way for trump winning the nomination. negotiations with russia lasted another five months. >> there would be nothing wrong if i did do it. i was running my business while i was campaigning. there was a good chance that i wouldn't have won in which case i would have gotten back into the business, and why should i lose lots of opportunities. >> reporter: cohen, up of trump's first campaign surrogates. >> he's a good man, a man who cares deep by about this country. >> reporter: worked for trump for more than a decade and admitted to paying off women who had an affair with trump and turned his back on the president this summer when he made a deal with robert mueller. >> he's a weak person. >> reporter: why hire him in the first place? >> a long time ago he did me a favor, a long time ago he did me
a favor. >> reporter: so the president say rival on the world stage here at the g-20 summit in argentina increasingly consumed by the russia investigation and increasingly isolated on the world stage. jake, he's been talking about this meeting with vladimir putin. it could have been a makeup, if you will, over the helsinki summit earlier this summer. he's scrapping plans for that meeting, even the idea of being seen with the russian president in the wake of all of these revelations certainly not optically beneficial to the president. so for now the meeting is off. >> let's talk again with the panel. kaitlan, before the president took off for the summit, now is a good time for the summit and that he'd be briefed on the plane and less than an hour later it was off. did they give a reason why? >> reporter: they did. here's the time line for this. the president did this interview with "the washington post" earlier this week foresenatoing that he might cancel that meeting, but then he seemed to reverse course today when he was speaking with us before the white house saying he believed now was a good time for the
meeting. >> with put you be, ain and the was likely to still go on but he would get the final report of what's going on with ukraine and russia on air force one and then a decision would be made and that's when that tweet same came out. sarah sanders said the president made the decision in the last half hour in between boarding marine one and being on air force one and he tweet that had after consulting with secretary of state pompeo and john kelly and john bolton and that's when he made the decision. the president easy tweet does seem to be the harshest words he's yet since the russians did seize the ukranian ships and sailors because earlier this week he hadn't said much about it. he didn't condemn the behavior as other leaders around the world did, and i think that people on capitol hill were really bracing themselves for this meeting in light of those actions and in light of the white house's muted response because they thought the president would go to argentina and pus his arm around vladimir
putin, and it would be the same thing that we've seen before. now the white house has said it's cancelled for now. >> do you think the scrapping of the meeting is entirely because of the russia aggression against campaign? you don't think cohen has anything to do with it? >> i don't buy the wag the dog theory. >> i don't think this is wag the dog. >> they started a war in "wag the dog." i happened to be on network here right after the president of ukraine the other day, on cnn international, and i listened. it's a serious situation of what took place. >> sure. >> they are on the verge of war on the crimean peninsula. they are at war right now, but an escalated war. it's a very serious situation. i think the president probably got the full briefing, at kaitlan outlined from secretary pompeo, secretary mattis, ambassador bolton and realized the gravity of it and said this is the key time, g 20, everybody is there, a big snub to putin, and putin has been saying this is all made up, totally made up but the ukranians. this really didn't happen, so it's a real punch in the face by the president here. >> what do you think?
>> you know, i tend to agree with david on this actually. and david will agree with me, what a humiliation his press conference with vladimir putin was last time they met. >> the in he will sinky. >> in he will sinky. >> this was after essentially putin had attacked the united states documented by our intelligence services. >> the election interference and the cyber attacks, and the president got up there on the stage with putin and basically, you know, let him off the hook on all of that, and it was roundly condemned, you know, across the board, and i think in the wake of what's going on with ukraine, his advisers, you know, pompeo and bolton, they still come out of that hawkish wing of the republican party and traditionally they have had very different views on russia than trump does, so i think what the white house is saying for once is actually accurate, that he's doing it for the right reason. >> and it's also true that
michael cohen's story about the development in moscow, it wasn't just him reaching out to russian developers. he was reaching out to the kremlin. >> yes, because the kremlin has to -- approves all of these business dealings, and the kremlin would have to give the go for donald trump to build a trump tower in moscow. look, i think that the president -- i'm not -- again, i always like to say i'm not passing out cookies and the pats on the back. i'm not passing out cookies for president trump cancelling his meeting. what is he going to do when he gets to the g-20 and what is he going to say at the press conference? there needs to be a strategy from the white house on this particular issue that we've not seen. >> yeah, we have. >> president trump cancelled meetings with turkey and south korea. my question is does the president not want to go to work? >> this administration has been very, very hawkish here. we've been arming the ukranians really strong, far stronger than the obama administration had ever taken.
>> against -- there's always -- >> congress had to force him into that. >> there's always a chance for a pull-aside, an informal meeting where they get together and talk but i do think cancelling the meeting, sarah sanders said they had not called the kremlin to tell them it's cancelled. >> it's it a black eye. gives them a punch in the face. >> we'll see if he actually doesn't meet with him. acting attorney general michael whitaker signed off on the plea deal, the same guy that democrats thought would still and suffocate the hearing. one of those democrats, incoming chairman jerry nadler is with us next. stay with us.
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welcome back to our politics lead. top house democrats are promising to investigate after president trump's longtime fixer michael cohen admitted today he lied to congress to protect the president about russia business dealings. joining me now is one of those democrats, congressman jerry nadler of new york. he's the ranking member of the house judiciary committee. expected to become the chairman of that committee when the democrats take control in january. thanks so much for being here. >> pleasure, thank you. >> look, this is clearly not welcome news for the president. i don't want to pretend that it is. once again i look at the documents and i don't see any evidence of conspiracy between members of the trump team and the russian government to interfere in the election. >> well, first of all, the president obviously has to be feeling very upset and angry now that we know that michael cohen was lying to congress -- was lying to congress on his behalf, an help has to be upset about what michael cohen has admitted to now and presumably what he will admit to, and what he's
admitted to is that he was negotiating a corrupt business deal during the campaign when the president said -- >> you call interest a corrupt business deal? >> the fact that it was negotiated with a foreign power while you're running for president -- >> not illegal, just colloquially corrupt? >> yeah. >> but still no conspiracy? >> well, wait a minute. it certainly tends to indicate -- it's one more piece of evidence -- we are, so now we know or cohen testifies to the fact that trump during the campaign at the same time that he is dictating a change in the republican platform to favor the russians, at the same time that he can find nothing negative to say about putin or what they are doing is in fact negotiating with the russian government for personal business profits.
mixing his personal business profits and perhaps putting them over the interests of the united states and lying to the electorate. >> sure, it stinks, but it's not a conspiracy is all i'm saying. >> first of all, it may be conspiracy. >> not to interfere with the election. there's no evidence of that? >> no, but now you have another piece of evidence of -- of active business dealings and conspireing by trump with the russian government at the time at the same time that you have other people who are agents of trump dealing with all the things we've seen about the hacking and guccifer and wikileaks and everything else. it's another point of -- of -- of trump's close relationship with the russians while he was denying it, and it all turns in the same direction. >> president trump basically responded to what you said earlier. he basically said are he wasn't president and he was just a candidate. he can do whatever he wants. take a listen. >> even if he was right, it doesn't matter, because i was allowed to do whatever i wanted
during the campaign. >> is that true? >> well, no, he's not allowed to do whatever he wants during the campaign. >> okay. >> he's allowed to have private dealings with the russians. he is not allowed to have private business dealings with the russians and lie to the american electorate and change the republican platform, in other words to mix his public policy and probably the public policy going forward into his presidency. >> when you say he's not allowed, to i'm not disputing that it stinks, but it's not illegal, right? >> it's not illegal to have public -- to have business dealings with the russians. that's not illegal to change the republican platform. it may very well be illegal to take the public -- it's certainly illegal if he's done anything as president based on his business relationships with the russians, and this is another piece of evidence going
towards that -- towards that conclusion. >> so cnn has just learned that acting attorney general whitaker was informed of the cohen plea deal ahead of the time according to a source familiar with the process. legally, theoretically, as acting attorney general he could have acted to stop the deal if you wanted to. you've expressed serious concerns about the acting attorney general mr. whitaker. does this reassure you at all that he let this happen? >> doesn't reassure me. it -- it -- i'm glad to see that he acted -- that he didn't act corruptly to protect the president in this instance, but we still have a lot of reasons to -- to question his impartiality and -- and whether he'll do justice and -- and allow the mueller probe to go wherever the evidence leads. it's relieving that he didn't corruptly seek to stop it here, but that's all i'll say. it's still very important to pass the legislation pending in
the senate and the house to protect the mueller investigation from interference by the white house or by mr. whitaker, and, again, what we're seeing now is evidence of close collusion between the president and the russians, not necessarily in the campaign, but at the same time at the campaign and that's very worrisome and it another bit of proof that we have to look at with the collusion with the campaign, too, and at least we know -- the american people showed in the election that they don't trust the republicans not to lay down to the president because the republicans in congress have totally failed to do any oversight, and they have shown that they want this congress to do oversight, and we will. >> yes or no question, if i can do it. are you going to call michael cohen to testify before your committee? >> that i don't know, but i'm sure he's going to be before the
intelligence committee before that's where he lied first. how one of president trump's cabinet members helped this child rapist avoid serious prison time with the, quote, deal of a life time. stay with us. to homesliveries than anyone else in the country. ♪ with one notable exception. ♪ but before you do that, you should meet our newest team member, tecky. i'm tecky. i can do it all. go ahead, ask it a question. tecky, can you offer low costs and award-winning wealth management with a satisfaction guarantee, like schwab? sorry. tecky can't do that. schwabbb! calling schwab. we don't have a satisfaction guarantee, but we do have tecky! i'm tecky. i ca... are you getting low costs and award-winning wealth management? if not, talk to schwab.
accused pedophile of jeffrey epstein, a friend of bill clinton and donald trump, was given a slap on the wrist and he helped epstein avoid any serious prison time. at least one member of congress is calling on the justice department to investigate. >> that's right. south florida congresswoman debbie wasserman schultz is calling on the office of inspector general inside of the justice department to immediately open an investigation into potential corruption surrounding secretary acosta's actions as a federal prosecutor, and the new details coming out are causing damage to acosta's political trajectory. we are now learning he's no longer being considered for the attorney general position. >> he's supposed to be protecting these victims, and he was protecting jeffrey epstein, a pedophile. >> reporter: according to an extensive investigation by "the miami herald" accused serial pedophile and multi-millionaire jeffrey epstein got a sweetheart
deal thanks to president trump's secretary alex acosta. the paper found as a u.s. attorney in 2007 acosta and another federal prosecutor struck a plea deal with epstein's legal team just as the fbi was investigating years of alleged sex crimes. "the herald" report ensteepstei accusations including 36 underage victims, a steady stream of girls 16 and under in and out of his palm beach mansions and allegations that he paid teens to recruit more young victims. a private investigator for the legal team representing the victims had this to say. >> i read the report. there were multiple allegations of sex trafficking, trafficking girls across lines, using his airplane to traffic girls, witness intimidation and then all of a sudden it disappeared.
>> reporter: according to "the miami herald" the agreement between acosta and epstein's legal team allowed the defense to dictate the terms, shut down the fbi investigation into additional victims and accomplices and granted immunity to potential co-conspirators, and it was kept secret from the victims until approved. now victims have called a civil suit calling the plea deal acosta arranged illegal. >> is it illegal or improper? >> it could be both. certainly improper. >> reporter: as for epstein, he pled guilty to just two state prostitution charges and served 13 months in county jail. he registered as a sex offender and paid restitution to his victims. secretary acosta addressed the plea deal in his confirmation hearing last year. >> based on the evidence professionals within a prosecutor's office decide that a plea that guarantees that someone goes to jail, that
guarantees that someone register generally and that begin tease other outcomes is a good thing. >> reporter: for a victim to be kept in the dark entirely in cop junction with an fbi probe being shut down and a favorable plea according to a report that says he's able to have work release privileges and be able to leave his jail cell and not have publicity in a large percent and of these cases, that's what is so shock begun this. >> reporter: "the herald" interviewed several victims, including virginia roberts, who was employed at president trump's mar-a-lago resort which is near epstein's mansion when she was recruited. >> the training started immediately. i mean, it was everything down to how to be quiet, be subservient, give jeffrey what he wants, and, you know, before you know it i'm being lent out to politicians and to academics >> this incident raising questions about acosta's judgment if he brokered a deal
unethical or illegal or not in the interest of victims, serious questions for someone currently in a position of power as labor secretary. jake? >> thank you so much. our coverage on cnn continues right now. happening now. breaking news. trump's fixer flips. in a stunning development, president's longtime personal lawyer shows up in federal court pleading guilty to lying to congress about a project to build a trump tower in moscow, all as part of a plea agreement with the special counsel robert mueller. someone is lying. mueller says he believes cohen's story even as president trump refutes cohen's claims calling him a liar and a weak person, trying to lessen the sentence, but tonight trump lawyer rudy giuliani says the president's recollection is the same as cohen's. so who is telling